Election in The Streets:
Table of Contents:
- Executive Summary
- 1. While they celebrated "massive" immigration protests with "huge" crowds, the broadcast networks largely avoided scientific polling data that showed that the protesters were in an overwhelming minority.
- 2. Advocates of opening a wider path to citizenship were almost twice as likely to speak in news stories as advocates of stricter immigration control.
- 3. While conservative labels were common, liberal labels were rarely or never used.
- 4. While protests centered on underlining the vital role illegal aliens play in the American economy, the burdens of illegal immigration in added government costs or crime were barely covered.
- 5. The networks have not dropped the word "illegal" in favor of "undocumented" immigrants, although some reporters struggled to adopt clumsy liberal-preferred terminology.
On December 16, 2005, the House of Representatives passed a bill to curb the flow of illegal aliens and give the federal government more responsibility for detaining and deporting them. That night, ABC, CBS, and NBC didn’t cover the vote, even though it was front-page news in the next day’s Washington Post. Before the vote, the Post suggested Republicans were "driven by the rising anger of their constituents."
But in the spring, when left-wing advocacy groups for illegal aliens organized large protests against the House bill, as the Senate considered its own immigration bill, the networks suddenly, fervently discovered the issue and gave the advocacy groups not a mere soapbox in the park, but a three-network rollout of free air time. Protest coverage, often one-sided, stood in stark contrast to polling data showing that a stricter approach to illegal immigration was broadly popular in the country. The broadcast networks took the nation’s passion for stricter immigration control and defiantly tried to turn it upside down.
To determine the tone and balance of network coverage of illegal aliens, MRC analysts evaluated every ABC, CBS, and NBC morning, evening, and magazine show news segment on the immigration debate from the outbreak of protest coverage on March 24, 2006 through May 31, 2006. Analysts reviewed 309 stories, 118 of them brief anchor-read items. The following trends emerged: